With the decline of the caliphate in Syria and Iraq, a thorough analysis of the future threat is necessary in order to focus on the way forward. The latest issue of the Journal of Security and Global Affairs, published last month, addresses these matters to which academic and governmental specialists provide insight as to how to approach future challenges in Syria and Iraq. The mix of academic perspectives together with professional experiences makes this an excellent opportunity to focus on issues and questions that arise with the decline of the caliphate.
The journal firstly provides insight about the lives in the Syrian territories that are controlled by jihadists. This article specifically targets western individuals who travelled to Syria and tries to provide an all-encompassing overview of the daily lives of these foreign fighters. The authors not only focus on the daily lives of these foreign fighters, but also on the difference between men and women and the training they receive. Men receive military training, whereas women are expected to fulfill a supporting role. Children are expected to take on these specific roles from the age of six onwards.
The manner in which we view travelers to the caliphate is highly securitized, as argued by the author of the second article. Securitization occurs when government officials view the foreign fighters through the lens of national security. This reasoning means that the governmental response to this issue is also surrounded by concerns relating to national security. However, the author argues that in order to focus on this complex issue, we need to leave the securitization-framework behind us and focus on the complexity of the issue instead. Viewing the issue as a national security problem is not enough and the issue is broader than this.
Where the first two articles are written by academics, the third article is written by a governmental specialist and provides a specific governmental specific relating to the direction of the threat. The authors enquire whether the focus on returnees to the West is justified. He poses that, after analyzing twenty-two jihadist attacks in the West in 2016, the threat does not solely come from returnees, but also from other groups of jihadists.
Lastly, the journal features an article on the children of the caliphate. The authors focus on the reintegration of children who have been indoctrinated, trained and traumatized in parts of Syria and Iraq. They have analyzed rehabilitation and reintegration programs and concluded that these programs do not differ greatly from programs designed to reintegrate and rehabilitate non-terrorist criminal offenders. Thus, lessons learned from these programs might be helpful to specify the needs for the rehabilitation and reintegration programs for terrorist criminal offenders. This does not mean that a generic approach is needed; they argue that tailor-made approaches are still necessary in order to cope with this specific issue.
These articles are fully accessible in the latest issue of the Journal of Security and Global Affairs.